The Microsoft antitrust trial will lumber to life again briefly this week when the company formally asks the U.S. Supreme Court to let the Court of Appeals hear the appeal in its antitrust case first. Microsoft, which was found guilty of antitrust violations and ordered split up by Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, would prefer the Appellate Court to hear its appeal first, as that court has been friendly to Microsoft in the past. But Jackson asked that the Supreme Court hear the case directly, bypassing the Court of Appeals. Legal experts are divided over how the Supreme Court should rule, as this is the first time a judge has enacted a special law that allows the Supreme Court to skip over the appellate process in matters of "general public importance."

"We believe the Supreme Court would benefit from an initial review by the Court of Appeals because of the wide array of procedural and factual issues that will be raised in our appeal," a Microsoft spokesperson said Tuesday. Microsoft's 30-page filing, which is due Wednesday, is expected to argue that the company has a legal right to a full appeal, especially since the judge has ruled to break up the company. The U.S. government then has until August 15th to respond and Microsoft must submit its own reply August 22. After that, the Supreme Court could rule on the matter at any time.

The Court of Appeals might have made the decision somewhat easier for the Supreme Court, however. Even before Microsoft officially requested that the lower court hear its appeal, the Court of Appeals made an unprecedented offer to have its entire panel of eligible judges hear the case, rather than the usual randomly-chosen three judges. This was designed to show the Supreme Court that it was serious about hearing the appeal